Affirming Our Vibrant Democracy, Virginia Officials Will Draw a Name to Determine Winner of House Race

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Nearly eight weeks of a truly harrowing ballot recount debacle will come to a close tomorrow, when Virginia officials will finally determine the winner of a tied, highly contested state house race in the state’s 94th district in the most democratic way possible: by randomly drawing a name out of a bowl in a crowded room full of onlookers.

The Virginian-Pilot reports that, after a panel of judges denied Democratic candidate Shelly Simonds’s request to re-hear arguments about the contested election, state officials announced that a member of Virginia’s Board of Elections will pull one of the candidate’s names from a bowl (sculpted by hand from a Virginia artist!) at 11 a.m. Thursday morning.

Simonds and her opponent, Republican incumbent David Yancey, each received 11,608 votes during the state’s election on Nov. 7; while Yancey initially won the race by 10 votes, Simonds demanded a recount, which determined that she was the winner of the race, elected by a single vote. A protracted squabble over the viability of one ballot—was it bubbled in correctly? Does a slash mark count as a full, robust bubble?—resulted in the discounting of that ballot. As of Dec. 20, the race was a tie.


The Pilot goes on to describe the drawing process, which sounds akin to an elementary art project:

A Board of Elections member will print out names of the two candidates on separate slips of paper. The slips will then be put into old film canisters and placed into the bowl.

The canisters are mixed up and then Board Chairman James Alcorn will pull out one of the canisters. Whoever’s name is on the slip of paper inside wins.

The other slip will be pulled out to show that both candidates names were included.


The political composition of Virginia’s House of Delegates, which is currently split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, will also depend on the results of tomorrow’s name-drawing.

If nothing else, at least they’re supporting a local artist.